PULLMAN, Wash. — The College of Liberal Arts at Washington State University has named Aaron A. Johnson of Spanaway to carry the college banner at the fall 2003 commencement ceremony.

Considered a position of honor, banner carriers must be high-achieving students nominated by their department or school. The final selection is made by the dean’s office staff following interviews. “I am well aware of Aaron’s qualifications academically and otherwise,” said Barbara Couture, dean, College of Liberal Arts, “and I believe he is a marvelous choice.”

A graduate of Bethel High School in Spanaway, Johnson transferred to WSU after earning an associate’s degree from Whatcom County College. He is the first in his immediate family to graduate from college. After just three semesters at WSU, Johnson is completing his studies with a 3.88 grade point average and a double major in sociology and criminal justice.

Johnson was also accepted at the University of Washington but chose WSU because of the small town atmosphere. “There was a sense of friendliness. I never felt like a number,” he said. “It’s neat to see the way alumni support the school. It makes you feel like you’re part of a community when you’re from WSU.”

He credits his success to several faculty members but said one professor, in particular, made a tremendous difference in his experience. “Travis Pratt is by far the most influential professor,” Johnson said. “He is so passionate about students and academics and it shows. His lectures are awesome. He’s always been the one I could talk to about ideology, projects in other classes — anything.” Johnson also mentioned professor Eugene Rosa. “Talk about world class face to face. Take a look at his vita. He could be teaching anywhere in the world.”

A trained construction worker, Johnson has financed 50 percent of his education by working construction jobs in the summer. His parents, Lynn and Greg Johnson, paid the other half. “The most exciting part of this honor,” he said, “was being able to tell my parents I had been selected. It’s a way of showing them the money was well spent.”

Johnson’s big plans don’t end with commencement. He has applied to 10 law schools in the northwest and plans to marry his high school sweetheart in February. His long-range goals include criminal law and public office.